Just like every other morning, I stopped by McDonalds for a large coffee–fresh–with five creams. This morning, the coffee was perfectly prepared and, just like every other morning, I drove to work talking (praying really) to Jesus. I climbed out of my old maroon Jeep and walked through the parking garage and onto the street. Downtown is a mix of tall, sleek buildings, churches, an old library, and on this particular busy corner, a church and school–my employer.
At the intersection, I waited for the pedestrian light to change before crossing the street and as I waited, I noticed a tall, thin homeless man on the opposite side along my intended path. We made eye contact and as I watched, he leaned against a parking meter. He was obviously waiting for me to arrive. The crossing light changed, and I crossed the street. “Excuse me, ma’am. May I have your coffee?” he asked as I neared him.
I never really fit in at this job and seemed to have problems each day. Nothing went right and the harder I tried, the more mistakes I made. It was awful. My conversation with Jesus this particular fall morning was probably something about this issue. What I remember –it’s five years ago now–is that the headmaster said I was a gifted creative writer, and my office was in the basement–an old storage space with my co-worker Linsy, a sweet girl who managed the afterschool program.
I handed him my coffee, but before I did so, I took off the lid. I didn’t want him to share germs. He must’ve thought the action funny because he laughed. “I don’t want you to get sick,” I responded. It’s illegal to feed the homeless downtown, and it was a habit I had developed. Once or twice I bought two lunches to give one to a person along my walking route. One door to my office opened directly to the street. Once or twice each week, homeless men tried to get in.
As I walked away, I told Jesus, “Dad, you’re going to get me arrested.”
As I entered mine and Linsy’s workspace, I told her that I just saw Jesus.
I switched on my computer and (my job was communications) the first e-mail I read was a from a teacher who sent me a photo of the mayor stopping by for a photo with the children.
Today, on that very corner, is a statue of sorts. A bench with a homeless Jesus sleeping there.